The decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to approve Pilipinos with Disabilities (PWD) as the first party-list group to participate in the May, 2013 elections is a clear signal as to what the Comelec believes is a "real" party-list and who should be the representatives. PWD is represented by persons with disabilities - Michael Barredo is visually impaired while Manual Agcaoili, Adeline Ancheta, Octavio Gonzales, and Luis Arellano are orthopedically impaired. They also have a track record of working with and for disabled persons. I laud this strict interpretation of the Comelec, given how in the past, accommodations were made for family members of politicians to represent sectors that they were obviously not members of.
I believe this interpretation follows both the spirit and letter of the Constitution that in Section 5 (1) lists the members of Congress to include "those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations." Section 5, (2), states that "- shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector."
REPUBLIC ACT No. 7941, "AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE ELECTION OF PARTY-LIST REPRESENTATIVES THROUGH THE PARTY-LIST SYSTEM, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR" sets the context, by declaring in Section 2, " which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and under-represented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadcast possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible."
The law also specifies the sectors to include labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals.
The problem for the Comelec is that in RA 7941, the legislators seem to have given great latitude for all sorts of parties to be accommodated. In Section 3, the definition of terms considers the following:
"c) A political party refers to an organized group of citizens advocating an ideology or platform, principles and policies for the general conduct of government and which, as the most immediate means of securing their adoption, regularly nominate and supports certain of its leaders and members as candidates for public office. …